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Hack Attempt Thwarted By Theft Of Paw From MIT Beaver Costume

By Dan Cho


MIT’s mascot Tim the Beaver lost a foot on Saint Patrick’s Day during a hack attempt gone awry. Class of 2004 Ring Committee member Amal Dorai ’04 and several other MIT students brought the Institute’s beaver mascot costume to Harvard Square, where the paw was stolen by an unknown male.

The incident took place after the 2004 Ring Premier, when Dorai was left with the care of the beaver costume which had been rented from the Campus Activities Complex.

“I decided to have a little fun with the costume before returning it,” Dorai said in an e-mail addressed to a number of living group mailing lists.

Dorai, dressed in the beaver suit, traveled with a group of friends to Harvard Square, planning to take photographs with the statue of John Harvard.

Once the MIT students arrived at Harvard Square, said hack participant Erin Rhody ’05, Dorai removed the hands and feet of the beaver costume in order to climb the John Harvard statue. He then commenced a simulated sex act with Harvard’s seated likeness while the other students either supported Dorai under the statue, took photos or sang the Engineer’s Drinking Song in front of a crowd of about 15 onlookers, Rhody said.

Harvard student turns tables

While the students were engaged in these activities, an unidentified male grabbed one of the foot pieces of the costume, which sat unguarded on the ground. The man ran with the foot towards a nearby group of Harvard dormitories. None of the MIT students were able to stop the thief or to get a good look at him.

“I was too busy holding up the beaver,” Rhody said. “Basically we had enough people there. We could have stopped it.”

Dorai and several other MIT students ran in pursuit of the thief.

“We just basically went into each entry way and kind of popped our heads in and to see if we could see anyone who was laughing hysterically with a brown furry thing under his arm,” Dorai said.

The students found no trace of the thief or the stolen paw.

Greater disaster averted

In the meantime, Rhody and Teresa A. Fazio ’02 remained behind to guard the remainder of the beaver suit, which Dorai had removed and placed in its garment bag. Rhody and Fazio, wary of the drunken Saint Patrick’s Day crowd which was growing rowdier by the minute, decided to leave the immediate area, Rhody said. Two male Harvard students followed them and repeatedly threatened to take the beaver suit from the two women.

“They were pretty standard Harvard wankers,” Fazio said. “We thought they were kidding at first.”

One of the Harvard students, however, made a lunge for the garment bag containing the costume. Fazio, a Marine ROTC candidate, said he grappled with the would-be thief, seizing the Harvard student’s genitals. The stunned assailant broke free and fled into the night with his partner, Fazio said.

Hack proves expensive

CAC staff were troubled to learn of the paw’s disappearance, said Phil Walsh, director of the CAC. Their main worry was that the suit would be unavailable for Institute events.

“When you don’t have the full suit, it creates a bit of a problem for others who want to use the costume,” Walsh said.

The CAC was able to obtain a new set of paws from the costume’s maker in about a week, avoiding disruption of the mascot’s appearance schedule. The price of the replacement paws was $650.

CAC staff were also concerned when they discovered how the beaver paw was lost.

“I think the circumstances surrounding the loss of the shoe is clearly an inappropriate use of the mascot,” said Walsh. “In the time we’ve had the mascot -- about three years -- this is the first time that it’s occurred.”

In addition to charging the Class of 2004 Ring Committee $650 for the new paws, CAC and RingComm members will soon meet to discuss whether the RingComm will be permitted to rent the mascot for the Ring Delivery event on May 5.

Dorai appeals to student charity

Dorai sent an e-mail to several Institute mailing lists recounting the theft and requesting donations to help defray the cost of the stolen paw. The e-mail included several photos of the beaver-suited Dorai with the John Harvard statue.

Dorai is attempting to raise the $650 sum on his own, rather than using Ring Committee funds that were earmarked for the Ring Delivery event.

“We’d rather give [the Ring Committee funds] to the class instead of just having it go through us,” said Douglas J. Quattrochi ’04, chair of the 2004 Ring Committee. “We’re absolutely gong to pay though, so that’s not an issue. I mean we or Amal.”

Donations are being collected through Ring Committee members and via Paypal. Last night, Dorai reported receiving $120 in donations, $100 of which came from a single, anonymous source.

Students unmoved

In spite of Dorai’s fund-raising success thus far, reaction from many students has been dismissive. Few seem willing to contribute money replace the paws.

“For something that stupid, I’m sorry,” said Rossana Ivanovia ’05.

“I think $650 is a lot of money, but I think it’s his responsibility,” said Celia Macias ’04.

“That’s what they get for prancing around Harvard in a beaver costume,” said Orlando Jaquez ’05. Jaquez added, however, that “if its desperate enough, I’m willing to give a dollar.”

In spite of these reactions, Dorai said he hopes that “maybe a few people would think it’s kind of funny and donate a few bucks to the cause.”

“Our egos were slightly bruised by the fact that a Harvard student absconded with out paw,” Dorai said, “but overall I think a pretty good time was had by all.”